Six times in a row our team already had the privilege to participate in this extraordinary race, we have already written a lot about the more special experiences. And six times Daniel Bichlmann was there.
Daniel Bichlmann is a chimney sweep in real life, lives in the deepest Bavaria on the border to Austria and has found his sporting home 600km away in the Saarland thanks to BIKE AID. He swings his bike around 6 in the morning in the dark and no matter if rain or snow to cycle to work, in the evening the same back again. In between, he drives professional races, is at the start with the reigning world champion or drives around the globe. This extraordinary story has already taken him to the legendary Rouleur Magazine.
For Daniel, the Tour of Qinghai Lake is his Tour de France. In order to survive in this race, which offers so many extremes, he has to throw everything in a balance. Weeks before, he begins his asceticism, does not allow himself more sweets, trains strictly according to plan and still has to work every day.
Daniel was a hopeful junior rider in his youth, was a top class elite rider and repeatedly won prestigious races. But he soon realized that it would not be enough for a world-class professional. Nevertheless, his passion for cycling is so great that he can not leave it.
Today he has to support top athletes like Nicodemus Holler, Lucas Carstensen, Justin Wolf, Adel van Engelen, Hafetab Weldu and reigning Africa champion Mekseb Debesay in the team at the Tour of Qinghai Lake. Before, for example, Going up in the direction of four thousand meters altitude on the mountains of the Tibet Plateau and the top riders fighting for results, Daniel has to bring countless bottles of water on the team car and provide the boys. When it comes to a sprint, Daniel has to do some fast-paced work to total exhaustion and has often been rewarded when, for example, Lucas Carstensen then took the victory.
Even without a stage win, our team can look back with satisfaction on this year's participation. Justin Wolf showed once again his potential in the time trial when he missed the podium on the seventh stage with 4th place by ten seconds. Lucas Carstensen took 5th place in the mass sprint on the final stage in Yinchuan. On the fourth stage to Longyangxia, Mekseb Debesay dominated the race over the 3,745m high pass, finishing fourth and ranked 19th with a top 20 finish in the final overall standings.
If you take a look at the team ranking, you will again see the broad line-up of the team. This year, a total of 6 European Pro Continental teams participated in Qinghai Lake. The 4 Spanish and Italian teams that participate in Giro d'Italia and Vuelta Espagna ended up far behind the small German team, which finished in 7th place.
Once again, the Tour of Qinghai Lake has impressively proven that cycling is more than Tour de France. Hundreds of thousands of spectators enthusiastically celebrate cycling in China, cycling provides unique images and emotions and there is a small team from the Saarland conquering the globe.
Should Daniel Bichlmann make it two more times to the Tour of Qinghai Lake, he would have 8 Chinese treasures in his memories and would be the rider with the most participation. He certainly already has a lot to tell, what he has experienced in recent years in races on all continents. He raced in Eritrea, Cameroon, Rwanda or Colombia, Canada and Australia, to name but a few. In 2016 he started with BIKE AID at the World Championships in the team time trial in Doha. He is not one of the athletic figureheads of the team, but has a large share in their success through his selfless teamwork.
A big thank you goes to Marleen Stoel, who accompanied us in China and captured the race in great pictures. Likewise our Chinese masseur Wang, our Dutch staff Astrid and our Kenyan mechanic Nixon, who did a maximum of 2 weeks for the riders.